Uganda is a country in eastern Africa. It borders Kenya, South Sudan, Democratic Republic of the Congo, Rwanda, and Tanzania. It is within both the African Great Lakes region and the Nile River basin and has both the tallest mountain range, the source of the longest river, and the largest lake in Africa. Uganda is known for its incredible wildlife viewing, such as seeing the silverback gorillas in their native habitat or watching the Big Five (rhinos, African lions, African elephant, Cape buffalo, and African leopard.) The capital of Uganda is Kampala, on the edges of Lake Victoria in the south of the country.
The international airport in Uganda is Entebbe International Airport, near Entebbe - about 46km from Kampala. There is a short list of countries whose citizens don’t need a visa; check before travelling to see if your country is on that list. Once at the airport, your hotel or tour guide will likely have arranged pick up. If not, catch a local bus or taxi. Be sure to agree on a price before you get in.
The first Ugandans were likely hunter-gatherers until around 2,000 years ago. The Bantu-speaking people migrated to the south of the country. Arab traders arrived in the early 1800s followed by the British in the 1860s, and then finally the missionaries. Uganda became a British protectorate from 1894 until 1962, when it finally achieved independence. General Idi Amin took control in the 1970s and since then, much of the political power has been achieved through coups. The government is considered one of the most corrupt in the world. Tourism in Uganda is on the rise, but you should check travel advisories before going. Both the US and UK governments warn against going to the north of the country.
The currency in Uganda is the Ugandan shilling. The main economy is production and agriculture; Uganda exports billions of dollars worth of coffee, tea, sugar, maize, and cocoa beans (among others) as well as oil re-exports, hides and skin, and base metals. Despite the strong GDP, Uganda remains one of the poorest nations in the world.
Budget accommodation in Uganda is found in much of the country, but you won’t find many of the traditional backpacker hostels of Europe and New Zealand. Instead of a hostel, consider a safari camp, eco lodge, or guesthouse. You may find shared rooms at these, but a private room is generally not much more expensive.
Uganda is rich in wildlife, so once you have your accommodation sorted, consider a safari to watch African lions or elephants, or jungle trek to see the mountain gorillas. If you plan for the overnight trip, you can literally hang out with them. Kibale National Park in Kasese or Bwindi Impenetrable National Park are both highly regarded as some of the best places in the world to see these enormous creatures. Keep in mind that you do need a permit to visit; all national parks have entrance fees as well.
Uganda is a mix of Indian, Arab, and indigenous cultures. In Kampala, view the Kasubi tomb - a UNESCO World Heritage Site - where the Bugandan royal family buried their kings. It was destroyed by fire in 2010 but as of writing, should be fully restored. There are more tombs nearby if you wish to visit; you can arrange for a guide at the Kasubi tomb. In the centre of Kampala, be sure to visit the Gaddafi Mosque, or the Uganda National Mosque. Libya’s Colonel Gaddafi commissioned it as a gift to Uganda’s Muslim population in 2006.
With over 60 national parks, beautiful scenery, and some of the best wildlife viewing in the world, Uganda is a destination for everyone.
Hi, I'm Jakob Lombardi,
the Hostelz.com local expert for Uganda hostels. Welcome.